4 weeks ago
Monday, January 21, 2013
Elder Cullimore and the Return of the Church to Cane Creek
Much of the attached post was written by Grace G. Cullimore. Her father-in-law Albert Lorenzo Cullimore served a mission in the Southern States in the late 1890's and had been assigned to Middle Tennessee. After he came home, he delighted in telling his family stories about his mission. In 1952, during a visit from her in-laws, she persuaded her father-in-law to allow her to write the stories as he told them. He dictated and she wrote - long hand. Then he agreed to edit them and the result was wonderful. I have taken only a section covering two visits to Cane Creek. But there is so much more to share. For now, enjoy.
We were told to go to Perry County; a new missionary was assigned to go with me. There was an Elder Milburn [Benton] Poole [1871-1960], whom another elder had been assigned to go with; but he refused to be his companion. So I was asked to take him. He was a very determined individual who was always right. As soon as we started on our travels, Elder Poole started to complain and talk on infidelity. He told me the only reason he had come on his mission was to please his mother.
[These two Elders were leaving a mission conference where they had been paired together and were going to their assigned area for the first time.]
We were told that Perryville was due west from Duck River about 30 miles away; there was a straight highway, and we could not miss the road. As we walked, I told him that we were going more to the south than to the west; but he snubbed me and we continued as he insisted. We traveled for miles and saw no homes. Finally, we came to a place where the railroad and the road intersected; and a negro man was walking down the track. I asked him how far it was to the Lewis County line. He told me that it was back down the road about two miles; we were already in Lewis County.
[Even today there are only two rail lines the enter Lewis County. One cuts through the south east corner at Summertown. The other enters from the north, runs through Kimmins and dead ends in downtown Hohenwald. Since they were heading from Duck River to Perryville, which would have taken them along the north side of Lewis County, these two must have come across the northern rail line.]
We had been told to stay out of Lewis County because of the mobbings. It was in Lewis County that Elder John Gibbs and Elder William S. Berry, two Mormon missionaries, had been shot by the mob. At the same time, two members of the Church were killed and several injured. Mrs. Conder had part of her hip shot off, and it was her two sons who had been killed by the mob. The leader of the mob was killed. His name was Dave Henson. Here we were in Lewis County and it was getting dark. We went to a little town named [Kimmins]; there were about seventy families in the town. We canvassed the town for a place to sleep. We were refused at every home.
[Elders Cullimore and Poole were not the first back to Cane Creek. Willard W. Bean went in 1895 albeit in disguise as a lumber agent. And there were two missionaries - Nelson and Bench - who walked through Lewis County in about June 1897, 6 months earlier. The earlier missionaries did not try to find someone to put them up for the night, but they did talk to a few residents. They had no problems with any kind of mob, but they did not visit any of the members, or baptize anyone.]
We went to see the groceryman, James Cunningham, and explained to him that we were on the wrong road and were very sorry that we were in Lewis County. He finally said he would give us entertainment. He said, "I'm happy you didn't come any sooner; a man named John Henson, brother of the mob leader, just left the store. He had his gun with him. He has carried it with him ever since the shooting and swears he will shoot the first Mormon missionary he sees, on sight."
[A story very similar to this was told about David Hinson's little brother Babe Hinson, but I've not heard much about John.]
We had been instructed not to travel on Christmas. It was the morning of December 24th. The merchant with whom we had spent the night was also a peanut buyer and showed us through his plant. He directed us to a family of Mormons in [Cane] Creek, by the name of [Elisha and Barbara] Talley. We found the family, but found that they had been in Colorado and were very dissatisfied and had returned almost apostate. After talking with us he finally agreed to let us stay with them over Christmas Day. (Christmas Day then, was the day when there was excessive drinking and hilarious conduct; so we were not to be on the streets.)
[In 1884, after the massacre, the Talleys sold some of their land, to finance their move to Colorado, but had to lease out the balance with no hope of collecting on it. They stayed in Colorado perhaps only a year before they returned to Tennessee, frustrated with the weather, politics, poor economy, and the pervasive role the Church played in their lives, and took possession of their old home they had leased out on Cane Creek.]
We were taken by our host to the scene of the mobbings and killings of Elders Gibbs and Berry. After a while, a messenger came to the house and told them that the mob had heard that my companion and I were in town, and they were assembling to run us out of town. So Brother Talley and his son put us on mules, and took us out of town about eight or ten miles and left us. It was three or four o'clock in the morning.
[Brother Talley probably took them northwest along Cane Creek into Perry County. The Conder's - Jim, Malinda and their oldest daughter Rachel, had moved to Perry County and by 1897 had not yet moved to Trace Creek next door to their younger married daughter, Vicie Haley.]
After they left us we traveled about 18 miles until we found the Conders. As stated before, the Conder boys were killed by the mob; and Mrs. Conder had part of her hip shot off by the mob. This was August 10, 1884. Since the killing, they had moved about 18 miles from the scene. They had not seen any of the missionaries since, so they were pleased to see us, though it brought back memories of the killing. They told us we could stay with them. About six o' clock at night a rap came on the door. I had never seen anyone so frightened as they were. They just shook, thinking it was the mob. To their surprise it was some friends, a man and his two sons, who had come to see them. The man's name was Brother [John Thomas] Carroll. He was a member of the Church, but had not seen the elders since the killings either. He said he was working out in the fields and something said to him to go to the Conders. It impressed him so that he and his two sons left their work and came at once. He said when he saw the elders he knew why they had come. We held a meeting with them at night and another meeting after breakfast. The sons were baptized by us in the morning before we left.
[In addition to being a farmer, Brother Carroll was an amateur dentist and folk medicine practitioner. When he joined the church he surprised the missionaries by showing up at someone else's baptism and asked to be baptized on the spot. His wife Judy and mother Sarah were baptized the next day. They were the last two converts before the massacre in 1884. The two sons of his who were baptized on Dec 27, 1897 were Marshall age 21 and Warren Carroll age 13. Brother Carroll was Sister Conder's nephew.]
Brother Carroll, whose sons we baptized, asked us to come to his home in Lewis County on our way back to hold meetings as he had some people who were about ready to be baptized.
On our way back, two weeks later, we had to pass through [Hohenwald, the] County Seat, where they were holding public auctions. We were seen by many who had said Mormons could not come to Lewis County.
We hadn't been at the home long before a man came and told Brother Carroll to get rid of us as they were making up a mob to come and get us. It was in early January and was very cold, so Brother Carroll took us up over a large hill into a hollow where he was clearing ground and burning the trees. He kept coming to see if we were alright, and to report on the mob.
They did not come so about midnight we went to his home and held a meeting. After the meeting we baptized two people and confirmed them members of the Church. I lay down and had a short sleep. The family was too worried to sleep. They gave us our breakfast about 3:00 a.m. and a lunch to take with us and sent us on our way. They were sorry to see us leave, but felt certain a mob would come and did not want to have any trouble befall us.
[I can't find who the other two people were that they baptized. They don't appear in the baptism record book for the period. I know several names missing from book, but most are from before 1880. By 1897 the records were getting pretty consistent. One might have been Bastian Talley, whose lived in the right area and at the right time, but whose baptism date I have not been able to find.]
Elder Poole had been very timid about taking any part in the discussions, and the next morning after the baptisms he would not take any breakfast. We started to travel on west. Noon came and Elder Poole still did not want to eat; as night came he would not eat. So I inquired of him as to the reason. He told me he was fasting. He fasted two days and nights. This was something to fast while traveling as hard as we did. When we arrived at the place of our meeting, he bore a wonderful testimony. The change in him was remarkable; he was a very enthusiastic missionary, and became one of the most outstanding missionaries in the conference.
Elder Cullimore and Elder Poole returned at least one more time to Lewis County. On 9 Feb 1898 they baptized Henrietta Carroll, age 18, a sister of the two Carroll brothers baptized six weeks earlier. By March 1898, a mission report indicated that the was a branch of 15 people in Lewis County. Six of them would have been the Carroll family. Two more were unnamed, and perhaps a few others left over from before the massacre.
Just for the record, I see no evidence that either Elder re-dedicated Lewis County for missionary work. Nor were either missionary related to Elder Gibbs or Elder Berry.
For a photo of Albert and his wife Luella, look here.